Kashmir's leading opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP), with 21 assembly seats out of 87, is keeping its cards close to the chest as to who their favourites for the Centre are. But the party has more praise for the BJP than the Congress this time.
"It is immaterial to us who comes to power at the Centre. Our political competitor is National Conference (NC), who we believe is behind all the ills in the state," said PDP spokesperson Naeem Akhtar.
However, Akhtar repeated the words of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti that BJP's Atal Bihari Vajpayee "proved a statesman when he extended his hand of friendship to Pakistan and people of Kashmir during his tenure".
"The NC was part of the NDA in the past, but failed to deliver anything on Kashmir. However, when Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was ruling the state and NDA was at the Centre, the two tried to pave way to address the Kashmir problem and began taking several measures, including opening the cross-Line of Control (LoC) bus service," said Akhtar.
Of late, the PDP has restricted its criticism for the BJP and his prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
No PDP leader made any remark about Gujarat or the 2002 communal riots. On the other hand, the PDP has no praise for the Congress and emerging Gandhi family scion, Rahul Gandhi.
"Rahul Gandhi had the opportunity to be at the forefront of the anti-corruption movement, but squandered it," she said in an interview.
In fact, Mehbooba went ahead earlier this year where she saw a ray of hope in Modi.
"There is a section of people (in Kashmir) which probably think that maybe Modi is the one who will have such authority that he will be able to take certain tough decisions (regarding Kashmir). Decisions like Vajpayee took. Otherwise, no other prime minister has ever taken any tough decision," she said in an interview.
The PDP fielding a candidate, Arshad Hussain, from Udhamur-Doda seat parliamentary seat from the Jammu region is bound to help the BJP, which is in a neck-to-neck contest with the Congress. The party will cut votes only from the Congress-NC kitty, giving an edge to the BJP.
The PDP, however, described the news its top brass meeting the BJP as "rumours". "We have no alliance with the BJP. For the assembly elections too, we intend to form a government on our own," said Akhtar.
Striking equal chord, Aktar said the PDP is ready to work with any government at the Centre. "We are worried about who represents Kashmir and not who represents Delhi," he added.
At present, the PDP has won no parliament seat. But the party is hopeful to win two-three seats in the state.
The ruling NC, however, sees PDP as "extension of the BJP". "The fact the PDP was creation of the BJP being no secret the two parties were pursuing the agenda tailored in New Delhi in a methodical manner," said NC provincial president Devender Singh Rana.